The Day: Al-Humazah & The Masih

Surah Al-Humazah (Surah 104 – The Traducer) warns us about Judgment Day in this way:

Woe to every (kind of) scandal-monger and-backbiter,

Who pileth up wealth and layeth it by,

Thinking that his wealth would make him last for ever!

By no means! He will be sure to be thrown into That which Breaks to Pieces,

And what will explain to thee That which Breaks to Pieces?

(It is) the Fire of (the Wrath of) God kindled (to a blaze),

Al-Humazah 104:1-6

Surah Al-Humazah says that a Fire of the wrath of Allah awaits us, especially if we have been greedy and spoken badly of others.  For those who have been continually generous to all people who have asked for help, who have never envied the wealth of a rich person, have never talked badly about another person, and never been in an argument with someone concerning money, perhaps they can maintain hope that they will not be broken in pieces and come under the wrath of God on that Day. 

But what about the rest of us?

The prophet Isa al Masih PBUH came specifically for those who feared the wrath of God coming on them.  As he said in the Gospel of John (a book of the Injil)

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

John 3:13-21

Isa al Masih PBUH claimed great authority – teaching even that he ‘came from heaven’.  His authority was proved in how the Taurat of Prophet Musa prophesied his authority from the Creation of the world in six days.  Then the Zabur and succeeding prophets prophesied details of his coming that showed that his coming was planned from heaven.  But what did the prophet mean when he said he ‘must be lifted up’ so that ‘everyone who believes in him may have eternal life’?  This is explained here.

Night of Power, Day of Glory & Word of the Prophets

Surah Al-Qadr (Surah 97 – The Power) describes the Night of Power when the Qur’an was first revealed

We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:

And what will explain to thee what the night of power is?

The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.

Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by God’s permission, on every errand: Peace!…This until the rise of morn!

(Surah Al-Qadr 97:1-5)

Surah Al-Qadr, though describing the Night of Power as ‘better than a thousand months’ still asks what the Night of Power was.  What was the Spirit doing that made the Night of Power better than a thousand months?

Surah Al-Layl (Surah 92 – The Night) has a very similar theme of Day and light follow the Night. The Day comes in Glory, and Allah guides because He knows everything from Beginning to End. Therefore He warns us of Fire at the End.

By the Night as it conceals (the light);

By the Day as it appears in glory;

(Surah Al-Layl 92:1-2)

Verily We take upon Ourselves to guide,

And verily unto Us (belong) the End and the Beginning.

Therefore do I warn you of a Fire blazing fiercely;

(Surah Al-Layl 92:12-14)

Compare Surah Al-Qadr and Surah Al-Layl with the following:

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Do you see similarities? When I read Surah Al-Qadr and Surah Al-Layl I was reminded of this quotation.  It also declare a Day rising after a Night.  During the night revelation was given to prophets.  It also warns us not to ignore the prophetic messages. Otherwise we face severe consequences.

This was written by the Apostle Peter, the leading disciple and companion of the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  Surah As-Saf (Surah 61 – The Ranks) says about the disciples of Isa al Masih:

O ye who believe! Be ye helpers of God: As said Jesus the son of Mary to the Disciples, “Who will be my helpers to (the work of) God?” Said the disciples, “We are God’s helpers!” then a portion of the Children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved: But We gave power to those who believed, against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed. 

(Surah As-Saf 61:14)

Surah As-Saf declares that the disciples of Isa al Masih were ‘God’s helpers’.  Those who believe the message of the disciples receive this power spoken of. As the leading disciple, Peter, was the leader of the ones helping God.  Though he was a disciple of the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH, witnessing his many miracles, hearing his many teachings, and seeing his authority exercised, Peter still declared above that the words of the prophets were even ‘more certain’.  Why was he more certain of the prophets than what he himself witnessed?  He continues:

Above all you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit

(2 Peter 1:20-21)

This tells us that the Holy Spirit of God ‘carried’ the prophets along, so that what they recited and then wrote down was ‘from God’.  This is why a Night like this is better than a thousand months because it is rooted in the Holy Spirit rather than in ‘the will of man’. Surah As-Saf tells us that those who pay attention to Peter’s message will receive the Power that was exercised on the Night of Power and will prevail.

Living in the time of the Prophet Isa al Masih, the ‘prophets’ that Peter wrote about were the prophets that are in what now is called the Old Testament – the Holy Books that came before the Injil.  In the Taurat of Prophet Musa were the accounts from Adam, Qabil & Habil, Nouh, Lut and Ibrahim.  As well it included the accounts of when Musa confronted Pharaoh and then received the Shariah Law, and also the sacrifices of his brother Harun, from which Surah Baqarah is named.

Following the close of Taurat came the Zabur where Dawud was inspired to speak of the coming Masih.  Successive prophets then prophesied of the Masih coming from a Virgin, of the Kingdom of Allah being opened for all, and also of great suffering for the coming Servant.  Then the name of the Masih was prophesied, along with the time of his coming, as well as the Promise of the Preparer.

Many of us have not had the chance to read these writings for ourselves.  Here, with these different links, is an opportunity.  Surah Al-Layl warns of a coming Fire.  Surah Al-Qadr declares that the Spirit of God was at work in the Night of Power.  Surah As-Saf promises Power to those who believe the message of the disciples. Peter, leader of these disciples, then advises us to ‘pay attention’ to the revelation of the earliest prophets, given in the Night, who looked forward to the Day. Would it not be wise to know their messages?

Do angels on Right & Left help on Judgment Day?

Surah Al-Haqqah (Surah 69 – The Reality) describes how The Day of Judgment will unfold with a Trumpet blast.

Then, when one blast is sounded on the Trumpet,

And the earth is moved, and its mountains, and they are crushed to powder at one stroke,-

On that Day shall the (Great) Event come to pass.

And the sky will be rent asunder, for it will that Day be flimsy,

And the angels will be on its sides, and eight will, that Day, bear the Throne of thy Lord above them.

That Day shall ye be brought to Judgment: not an act of yours that ye hide will be hidden.  (Surah al-Haqqah 69:13-18)

Surah Qaf (Surah 50) also describes a Day when the Trumpet of Allah is blown and the guardian angels on our right and left sides reveal the record of our deeds and merits.  These ayat read:

It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.

Behold, two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings) learn (and noted them), one sitting on the right and one on the left.

Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready (to note it).

And the stupor of death will bring Truth (before his eyes): “This was the thing which thou wast trying to escape!”

And the Trumpet shall be blown:  that will be the Day whereof Warning (had been given).

And there will come forth every soul: with each will be an (angel) to drive, and an (angel) to bear witness.

(It will be said:) “Thou wast heedless of this; now have We removed thy veil, and sharp is thy sight this Day!”

And his Companion will say: “Here is (his Record) ready with me!” (Surah Qaf 50:16-23)

Ayah 20 says that the warning of the Trumpet had already been given (before the Qur’an was revealed).  When was this given?  It was given by Isa al Masih (PBUH) when he foretold in the Injil that his return to earth would be announced by the trumpet of Heaven:

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:31)

What happens after this?  Surah Qaf describes an angel on our right and on our left, recording our deeds.  Since Allah is nearer to us than our jugular vein, the Injil tells us that these records of our deeds are so extensive that they are ‘books’.  This was described in a vision that John, a disciple of Isa al Masih PBUH, received and wrote in the final book of the Injil. As it is written:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)

This declares that all will be judged ‘according to what they have done’ as recorded in the ‘books’.  So we greet the angels on our right and left after prayers, hoping to get some advantage in the recording of deeds.

The Book of Life

But notice there is another book, called the ‘Book of Life’, which is different than the good-bad merit record-keeping books.  It states that ‘anyone’ whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (another term for hell).  So, even if our list of good merits recorded by the angel on our right is very long, and the list of sins recorded by the angel on our left side is very short – even then – if our name is not in the ‘Book of Life’ we are still condemned to Hell.  What is this ‘book of life’ and how is our name recorded in this book?

Both the Taurat and Quran state that when Hazrat Adam sinned, Allah banished him from Paradise and made him mortal.  This meant that he (and we his children) was separated from the Source of Life.  This is the reason we are mortal and will die one day.  The Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH came to restore this Life to us so our names could be entered into the Book of Life.  As he declared

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)

How the Prophet Ibrahim PBUH foresaw this gift of life, and why Isa al Masih can give us life is explained in detail here.  Surah Qaf warns us that

(The sentence will be:) “Throw, throw into Hell every contumacious Rejecter (of God) (Surah Qaf 50:24)

So if there is Eternal Life offered why not be informed about it?

Qur’an: No Variations! What say the hadiths?

“The Qur’an is the original scripture – same language, letters and recitation.  No place for human interpretation or corrupted translation …If you pick up a copy of a Qur’an from any home around the world I doubt you will even find a difference between them.”

A friend sent me this note.  He was  comparing the text of the Holy Qur’an with that of the Injil/Bible.  The Injil does have minor textual variations within the thousands of existing manuscripts.  The claim is often made, as above, that there has been no variation in the Qur’an.  This is seen as an indication of the Qur’an’s superiority over the Bible, and evidence of its miraculous protection.  But what do the hadiths tell us about the formation and compilation of the Qur’an?

Formation of Quran from Prophet to Caliphs

Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab.. I heard Hisham bin Hakim reciting Surat Al-Furqan during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle and I … noticed that he recited in several different ways which Allah’s Apostle had not taught me. … I … said, “Who taught you this Sura which I heard you reciting?” He replied, “Allah’s Apostle taught it to me.” I said, “You have told a lie, for Allah’s Apostle has taught it to me in a different way from yours.” So I dragged him to Allah’s Apostle and said, “I heard this person reciting Surat Al-Furqan in a way which you haven’t taught me!” On that Allah’s Apostle said, “Release him, (O ‘Umar!) Recite, O Hisham!” Then he recited in the same way as I heard him reciting. Then Allah’s Apostle said, “It was revealed in this way,” and added, “Recite, O ‘Umar!” I recited it as he had taught me. Allah’s Apostle then said, “It was revealed in this way. This Qur’an has been revealed to be recited in seven different ways, so recite of it whichever (way) is easier for you.”  Bukhari Vol 6, Book 61, No. 514

Narrated Ibn Mas’ud: I heard a person reciting a (Quranic) Verse in a certain way, and I had heard the Prophet reciting the same Verse in a different way. So I took him to the Prophet and informed him of that but I noticed the sign of disapproval on his face, and then he said, “Both of you are correct, ….”  Bukhari Vol 4, Book 56, No 682

These two clearly tell us that during the Prophet Mohamed’s (PBUH) lifetime there were several variant versions of the Qur’an’s recitation that were used and approved by Mohamed (PBUH).  So what happened after his death?

Abu Bakr and Qur’an

Narrated Zaid bin Thabit:  Abu Bakr As-Siddiq sent for me when the people! of Yamama had been killed. (I went to him) and found ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab sitting with him. Abu Bakr then said (to me), “Umar has come to me and said: “Casualties were heavy among the Qurra’ of the! Qur’an (i.e. those who knew the Quran by heart) on the day of the Battle of Yalmama, and I am afraid that … a large part of the Qur’an may be lost. Therefore I suggest, you (Abu Bakr) order that the Qur’an be collected.” I said to ‘Umar, “How can you do something which Allah’s Apostle did not do?” ‘Umar said, “By Allah, that is a good project. “… Then Abu Bakr said (to me). “…. So you should search for (the fragmentary scripts of) the Qur’an and collect it in one book).” …Then I said to Abu Bakr, “How will you do something which Allah’s Apostle did not do?” Abu Bakr replied, “By Allah, it is a good project.” Abu Bakr kept on urging me to accept his idea until Allah opened my chest for what He had opened the chests of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. So I started looking for the Qur’an and collecting it from (what was written on) palmed stalks, thin white stones and also from the men who knew it by heart,. … Then the complete manuscripts (copy) of the Qur’an remained with Abu Bakr  ….  Bukhari Vol 6, Book 61, No 509

This comes from when Abu Bakr was caliph, directly succeeding Mohamed (PBUH).  It tells us that Mohamed (PBUH) had never collected the Qur’an into a standard text or given any indication that such a thing should be done.  With heavy battle casualties amongst those who knew the Qur’an by memory, Abu Bakr and Umar (he became the 2nd Caliph) persuaded Zaid to start to collect a Qur’an from diverse sources.  Zaid was initially reluctant because Mohamed (PBUH) had never indicated a need to standardize the text.  He had trusted several of his companions to teach the Qur’an to their followers as the following hadith tells us.

Narrated Masriq: ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr mentioned ‘Abdullah bin Masud and said, “I shall ever love that man, for I heard the Prophet saying, ‘Take (learn) the Qur’an from four: ‘Abdullah bin Masud, Salim, Mu’adh and Ubai bin Ka’b.’ ” Bukhari Vol 6, Book 61, No 521:

However, after the Prophet’s (PBUH) death disagreements arose between the companions because of these variant recitations.  The hadith below tells of a disagreement over Surah 92:1-3  (Al-Layl)

Narrated Ibrahim: The companions of ‘Abdullah (bin Mas’ud) came to Abu Darda’…. Then he asked them,: ‘Who among you can recite (Qur’an) as ‘Abdullah recites it?” …. “How did you hear ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud reciting Surat Al-Lail (The Night)?” Alqama recited:  ‘By the male and the female.’ Abu Ad-Darda said, “I testify that I heard me Prophet reciting it likewise, but these people want me to recite it:– ‘And by Him Who created male and female.’ but by Allah, I will not follow them.” Bukhari Vol 6, Book 60, No 468:

Today’s Qur’an has the 2nd reading for Surah al-Layl 92:3.  Interestingly Abdullah, who is one of the four in the previous hadith especially singled out by the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) as an authority on Qur’anic recitation, and Abu Ad-Darda used an alternate reading for this verse and were not willing to follow the others.

The following hadith shows that whole regions of the Islamic empire were following different recitations, to the extent that one could verify where someone came from by what recitation he used.  In the case below, the Iraqis of Kufa were following Abdullah bin Mas’ud’s recitation of Surah 92:1-3.

‘Alqama reported: I met Abu Darda’, and he said to me: To which country do you belong? I said: I am … of Iraq. He again said: To which city? I replied: “Kufa”. He again said: Do you recite according to the recitation of ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud? I said: Yes. He said: Recite this verse (By the night when it covers) So I recited it: (By the night when it covers, and the day when it shines, and the creating of the male and the female). He laughed and said: I have heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) reciting like this.  Muslim Book 004, Number 1801:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: ‘Umar said, Ubai was the best of us in the recitation (of the Qur’an) yet we leave some of what he recites.’ Ubai says, ‘I have taken it from the mouth of Allah’s Apostle and will not leave for anything whatever.” Volume 6, Book 61, Number 527:

Though Ubai was considered ‘the best’ in reciting the Qur’an (He was one of those noted previously by Mohamed-PBUH), others in the community left out some of what he recited.  There was disagreement over what was to be abrogated and what was not.  Disagreements on variant readings and abrogation were causing tensions.  We see in the hadith below how this problem was solved.

Caliph Uthman and Quran

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman came to Uthman at the time when the people of Sham and the people of Iraq were Waging war …. Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur’an, so he said to ‘Uthman, “O chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Quran) as Jews and the Christians did before.” So ‘Uthman sent a message to Hafsa saying, “Send us the manuscripts of the Qur’an so that we may compile the Qur’anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you.” Hafsa sent it to ‘Uthman. ‘Uthman then ordered Zaid bin Thabit, ‘Abdullah bin AzZubair, Said bin Al-As and ‘AbdurRahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. … and when they had written many copies, ‘Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. ‘Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur’anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt.  Volume 6, Book 61, Number 510:

This is why there are no variant readings today.  It was not because the prophet Mohamed (PBUH) only received or used one recitation (he did not, he used seven), nor because he compiled an authoritative Qur’an.  He did not.  In fact, the whole of book 30 of Sunan Abu-Dawud hadiths is about the variant recitations of the Qur’an.  Today’s Qur’an is non-variant because Uthman (3rd caliph) took one of the readings, edited it, and burned all the other recitations.  The following hadiths show how this editing lives on in today’s Qur’an.

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas  …. Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth and revealed the Holy Book to him, and among what Allah revealed, was the Verse of the Rajam (the stoning of married person (male & female) who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and we did recite this Verse and understood and memorized it. … I am afraid that after a long time has passed, somebody will say, ‘By Allah, we do not find the Verse of the Rajam in Allah’s Book,’  Bukhari: vol. 8,  book 82 No 817

Today there is no verse about stoning (Rajam) for adultery in the Qur’an.  It was thus edited out.

Narrated Ibn Az-Zubair: I said to ‘Uthman, “This Verse which is in Surat-al-Baqara:  “Those of you who die and leave widows behind…without turning them out.” has been abrogated by another Verse. Why then do you write it (in the Qur’an)?” ‘Uthman said. “Leave it (where it is), …, for I will not shift anything of it (i.e. the Quran) from its original position.” Bukhari Vol 6, Book 60, No 60:

Here we see a disagreement between Uthman and Ibn Az-Zubair over whether abrogation of a verse meant it should or should not be kept in the Qur’an.  Uthman had his way and so this verse is in the Qur’an today.  But there was controversy about it.

Uthman and the Heading for Surah 9 (At Tawbah)

Narrated Uthman ibn Affan:: Yazid al-Farisi said: I heard Ibn Abbas say: I asked Uthman ibn Affan: What moved you to put the (Surah) al-Bara’ah which belongs to the mi’in (surahs) … and the (Surah) al-Anfal which belongs to the mathani (Surahs) in the category of as-sab’u at-tiwal (the first long surah or chapters of the Qur’an), and you did not write “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful” between them?

Uthman replied: When the verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet (PBUH), he called someone to write them down for him and said to him: Put this verse in the surah in which such and such has been mentioned; and when one or two verses were revealed, he used to say similarly (regarding them). (Surah) al-Anfal [ie surah 8] is the first surah that was revealed at Medina, and (Surah) al-Bara’ah [ie surah 9] was revealed last in the Qur’an, and its contents were similar to those of al-Anfal. I, therefore, thought that it was a part of al-Anfal. Hence I put them in the category of as-sab’u at-tiwal (the seven lengthy surahs), and I did not write “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful” between them.  Dawud Book 3, Number 0785:

Surah 9 (at Tawbah) is the only Surah in the Qur’an that does not begin with ‘In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful’.  The hadith explains why.  Uthman thought that Surah 9 was part of Surah 8 since the material was similar.  From the questioning we can see that this was controversial within the early Muslim community.  The next hadith shows the reaction of one of the Companions to Uthman’s Qur’an.

‘Abdullah (b. Mas’ud) reported that he (said to his companions to conceal their copies of the Qur’an) and further said: He who conceals anything he shall have to bring that which he had concealed on the Day of judgment, and then said: After whose mode of recitation you command me to recite? I in fact recited before AIlah’s Messenger (PBUH) more than seventy chapters of the Qur’an and the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) know it that I have better understanding of the Book of Allah (than they do), …. Shaqiq said: I sat in the company of the Companions of Mubkmmad (PBUH) but I did not hear anyone having rejected that (that is, his recitation) or finding fault with it.  Muslim Book 031, No 6022:

 Several things stand out:

  1. Abdullah b. Masud tells his followers to hide their Qur’ans for some reason.
  2. He seems to have been commanded by someone to use a different recitation. This is best understood as referring to the time when Uthman standardized his version of the Qur’an.
  3. Ibn Mas’ud’s objection to changing the way he recited the Qur’an was that: I (Mas’ud) have better understanding of the Book
  4. Shaqiq said that the Companions of Muhammad did not disagree with Mas’ud.

Textual versions of Qur’an today

Following Uthman’s edition, however, variant readings still existed.  In fact, it seems that in 4th century after the Prophet [PBUH] there was a sanctioned return to different readings.  So though today the major Arab textual reading is the Hafs (or Hofs), there is also the Warsh, used mostly in North Africa, Al-Duri, used mostly in West Africa and still others.  The difference between these readings are mostly in spelling and some slight wording variations, usually without any affect on meaning, but with some differences that do have an affect on meaning only in the immediate context but not in wider thought.

So there is a choice as to what version of the Qur’an to use.

We have learned that there are variant Arabic readings of the Qur’an today, and it went through an editing and selection process after the death of the prophet Mohamed (PBUH).  The reason that there is such little variation in the Qur’anic text today is because all other text variants were burned at that time.  The Quran has no alternate reading footnotes, not because it had no alternate readings, but because they were destroyed.  Uthman probably produced a good recitation of the Qur’an, but it was not the only one, and it was not made without controversy.   Thus the widely accepted idea of the Qur’an being  “original scripture – same language, letters and recitation.  No place for human interpretation” is incorrect.  Though the Bible and Qur’an both have variant readings, they also both have strong manuscript evidence indicating that the text as it is today is close to the original.  Both can give us a trustworthy representation of the original.  Many are distracted from seeking to understand the message of the Books by having an undue veneration for the mode of preservation of the Qur’an and an undue disdain for the mode of preservation of the Bible.  We would be better off focusing on understanding the Books.  That was the reason they were given in the first place.  A good place to start is with Adam.

Pentecost – the Helper comes to give Power & Guidance

Surah Al-Balad (Surah 90 – The City) refers to a city-wide witness and Surah An-Nasr (Surah 110 – The Divine Support) envisions crowds of people coming to a true worship of God.

I do call to witness this City;- And thou art a freeman of this City;- (Surah Al-Balad 90:1-2)

When comes the Help of God, and Victory, And thou dost see the people enter God’s Religion in crowds, Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy).  (Surah An-Nasr 110: 1-3)

Exactly fifty days after the resurrection of Isa al Masih PBUH the vision captured in Surah Al-Balad and Surah An-Nast came to pass.  The city was Jerusalem, and the disciples of Isa al Masih were the freemen who were the witnesses to that city, but it was the Spirit of the LORD moving amongst the crowds in that city which caused the celebration, praises and the forgiveness.  That day can also be experienced by us today, which we learn as we understand the history of this unique day.

The Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH had been crucified on Passover but then rose from the dead on the following Sunday.  With this victory over death he now offers the gift of life to any who will receive it.  After being with his disciples for 40 days, so they would be assured of his resurrection, he then ascended to heaven. But before he ascended he gave these instructions:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

He promised to be with them always, yet he left them shortly afterwards when he ascended to heaven.  How could he still be with them (and also with us) after he ascended?

The answer comes in what happened a little later.  At the supper just before his arrest he had promised the coming of the Helper.  Fifty days after his resurrection (and 10 days after his ascension) this promise was fulfilled.  This day is called the Day of Pentecost or Pentecost Sunday.  It celebrates a remarkable day, but it is not only what happened that day but when and why it happened that reveals the sign of Allah, and a powerful gift for you.

What happened on Pentecost

The complete events are recorded in the Book of Acts chapter 2 of the Bible.  On that day, the Holy Spirit of God descended on the first followers of Isa al Masih PBUH and they started speaking loudly in languages from around the world.  It created such a commotion that thousands who were in Jerusalem at the time came out to see what was happening.  In front of the gathered crowd, Peter spoke the first gospel message and ‘three thousand were added to their number that day’ (Acts 2:41). The number of followers of the gospel has been growing ever since that Pentecost Sunday.

This summary of Pentecost is not complete.  Because, just like the other events of the Prophet, Pentecost happened on the same day as a Festival that had begun with the Taurat in the time of the Prophet Musa PBUH.

Pentecost from the Taurat of Musa

Musa PBUH (1500 BC) had established several festivals to be celebrated through the year. Passover was the first festival of the Jewish year.  Isa had been crucified on the Passover day festival. The exact timing of his death to the sacrifices of the Passover lambs is a sign for us.

The second festival was the feast of Firstfruits, and we saw how the Prophet had been raised on the day of this festival.  Since his resurrection happened on ‘Firstfruits’, it was a Promise that our resurrection would follow for all those who trust him.  His resurrection is a ‘firstfruits’, just as the festival name prophesied.

Precisely 50 days after the ‘Firstfruits’ Sunday the Taurat required the Jews to celebrate Pentecost (‘Pente’ for 50).  It was first called Feast of Weeks since it was counted by seven weeks.  Jews had been celebrating the Feast of Weeks for 1500 years by the time of the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  The reason that there were people from all over the world to hear Peter’s message that day the Holy Spirit descended in Jerusalem was precisely because they were there to celebrate the Pentecost of the Taurat.  Today Jews continue to celebrate Pentecost but call it Shavuot.

We read in the Taurat how the Feast of Weeks was to be celebrated:

Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the LORD. (Leviticus 23:16-17)

Precision of Pentecost: Sign from Allah

There is a precise timing of the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on people since it occurred on the same day as the Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost) of the Taurat.  The crucifixion of Isa al Masih occurring on the Passover Festival, his resurrection occurring on the FirstFruits Festival, and this coming of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Weeks, are clear signs to us from Allah.  With so many days in a year why should the crucifixion, resurrection, and then the coming of the Holy Spirit happen precisely on each day of the three spring festivals of the Taurat, except if this was to show us His plan?

Events of the Injil occurred precisely on the three Spring Festivals of the Taurat
Events of the Injil occurred precisely on the three Spring Festivals of the Taurat

Pentecost: The Helper gives New Power

In explaining the signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter pointed to a prophecy from the prophet Joel predicting that one day the Spirit of God would pour out on all peoples.  The events of that Pentecost day fulfilled the prophecy.

We have seen how the prophets had revealed to us the nature of our spiritual thirst that leads us to sin.  The prophets also foresaw the coming of a New Covenant where the Law would be written inside our hearts, not just on tablets of stone or in books.  Only with the Law written in our hearts would we have the power and ability to follow the law.  The coming of the Holy Spirit on that Pentecost Day to dwell in believers is the fulfillment of this Promise.

One reason that the Gospel is ‘good news’ is that it provides power to live life better. Life is now a union between Allah and people.  This union takes place through the indwelling of the Spirit of God – which began on the Pentecost Sunday of Acts 2.  It is Good News that life can now be lived on a different level, in a relationship with God through His Spirit.  The Holy Spirit gives us a true inner guidance – guidance from God.  The Bible explains it like this:

And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Romans 8:11)

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

The indwelling Spirit of God is a second firstfruits, because the Spirit is a foretaste – a guarantee – of completing our transformation into ‘children of God’.

The gospel offers a new life not by trying-but-failing to keep the Law.  Nor is it an abundant life through possessions, status, wealth and all the other passing pleasures in this world, which Suleiman had found so empty.  Instead, the Injil offers a new and abundant life by the indwelling of the Spirit of God in our hearts.  If Allah offers to indwell, empower and guide us – that has to be Good News!  The Pentecost of Taurat, with the celebration of fine bread baked with yeast pictured this coming abundant life.  The precision between the Old and New Pentecosts is a clear sign that this is the plan of Allah for us to have an abundant life.